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OK to punish repeat offenders more harshly

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in Firing,Human Resources

A cardinal HR rule: Everyone who breaks the same rule should receive the same punishment. That doesn’t mean a frequent rule-breaker can’t be punished more harshly.

Recent case: Karla, a police officer, swore out search and arrest warrants following undercover drug buys. The rules required testing the drugs to establish their illegality.

During a departmentwide investigation, it turned out that some officers skipped the tests, simply stating that the seized substances had tested positive. Karla did this 39 times, far more than any other officers.

Karla was fired and sued, alleging male officers who broke the same rule weren’t terminated.

But the court said the sheer number of violations justified a more severe punishment. It tossed out her case. (Rush v. Oakland, No. A134024, Court of Appeal of California, 1st Appellate District, 2013)

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